As anyone choosing a location for a semester abroad knows, there are quite a few criteria that go into the decision. Experiencing a new culture and way of life is often students’ first reason, along with distance from home and cost of living. Lacking the knowledge of a second language, many countries were quickly erased from my list of options. Luckily, the country I had dreamed of visiting for years, New Zealand, is an English speaking country as well. I also knew I wanted to be able to go on various weekend getaways and backpacking trips, which I’ve found to be extremely common and simple within the compact country. At the end of the day, there’s absolutely no denying I chose New Zealand for study abroad due to it’s incredible variety of landscapes and outdoor activities scattered across the two islands.
While I was still driven to perform well in school, I knew travedling the country would be a major element of my semester abroad. In my first four months in New Zealand, I had the opportunity to backpack Egmont National Park and the Abel Tasman coast track, white-water raft on the Tongariro River and ride the world’s largest swing, the Nevis Swing in Queenstown. Take my word for it, it was more like a roller coaster than your ordinary playground swing!
I’ve been a Lord of the Rings enthusiast every since the movies were released and have visited various filming locations. On just my second day in the country I took a stroll around the rolling green hills of Hobbiton and enjoyed an ale at the Green Dragon, the ideal welcome to New Zealand in my book. Throughout the trimester I’ve observed various other film locations from the movies, and even stumbled upon Gandalf at the Putangirua Pinnacles! Just over the hills of Wellington lies the Red Rocks Reserve, where we were guided on an off-road safari ride by a guy who acted in the third Lord of the Rings movie!
Prior to my journey to New Zealand, I was naive towards the popularity of surfing along the coastal cities. That mindset changed when a group of mates and I road-tripped along Surf Highway 45 and experienced the renowned waves of the Raglan coast. If you’re ever on this stretch of road, be sure to pull over and rock-hop your way around the beach to catch a view of Elephant Rock!
While these first four months have been absolutely amazing, I still have another full month solely dedicated to further exploration of the country. It’s undeniable that New Zealand is an outdoor adventure wonderland and during my time here I learned that a new adventure is always right around the corner. No matter where you are, if you seek out novel experiences, unexpected and exciting events are bound to follow.
The world awaits…discover it.